How does a child reconcile a home community that is occupied by a foreign army, but that is also the place she knows best in the world, the place where she celebrates holidays, plays with her cousins, and enjoys her favorite meals? In Aida Refugee Camp, the Arabic letter of ghayn stands for ghaseel, the laundry hanging outside to dry and ghuyuum, the clouds above, but it also stands for ghaz, tear gas, and ghaza, Gaza.
Aida Refugee Camp, near Bethlehem is home to about 5000 Palestinians from 27 villages depopulated by Zionist armies in 1948. Lajee Center, a community-based organization established in 2000 to serve the youth of Aida, is on the edge of the camp, just 100 meters from an Israeli army base and the separation wall. During the summer of 2014, children of Aidagathered at Lajee Center, led by Kifah Ajarma and Amahl Bishara, to brainstorm objects and ideas relevant to the camp that started with each letter of the Arabic alphabet. Then, they illustrated the book together through collage art. The result is a bi-lingual children’s book made by children of Aida Refugee Camp for people of all ages (5-105) to learn about everyday life in a Palestinian refugee camp. Read it and you will pick up some Arabic, too!